Skateboarding started out as an edgy, alternative space where weird kids and out-of-the-water surfers could express themselves. Flash forward several decades, and riders compete for big prizes on ESPN, as well as lucrative endorsement deals. It's a commercial field these days.
But for one Japanese skater, Gou Miyagi, skateboarding represents something much more artistic. Miyagi's deck serves as both prop and body extension, providing him with a chance to express himself and elevate the form from tricks and prizes to art. Video has been an important part of skate culture, alongside music, for decades. He uses both with great success, as evidenced with plenty of viral view counts on YouTube.
Here's just one of Miyagi's compilations, which was filmed in parks, streets and on stairway rails. In it, he combines the rebellious spirit of skating with joyous movements that are at turns very contemporary and reminiscent of the best old-school tap dance, with handstands, rhythmic steps and elegant physical shapes:
Check out local Andrew Hutchison, a longtime skate photographer who has been published in Thrasher, the field's magazine of record, in addition to taking some great concert shots.
Watch cinematic clips of many more skateboarders and styles on the International Skateboard Film Festival site.
Japanese visual artist and longtime rider Haroshi creates sculptures from used decks -- two highlights are a handstanding cat and rainbow skull.
Discover documentaries and fictional films that feature skate culture and history, courtesy of this "Ultimate Skateboarding Movie List" on Letterboxd.